New to Model UN? Looking to improve your skills? First time in a crisis committee? Before consulting this section, we recommend beginning by reading through the NAIMUN Training Guide. Don’t worry if the terms below don’t make sense – the Training Guide will provide context for the jargon below.
Below you will find information on the basics of parliamentary procedure, the rules which structure and govern debate in committee. Most NAIMUN committees follow Robert’s Rules of Order. If, however, you will be participating in an unconventional committee or a court, please note that your Chair will likely delineate an alternate set of rules, which will be outlined in your background guide. If you have any questions about rules specific to your committee, don’t hesitate to contact your Chair prior to the conference. More information about Parliamentary Procedure can be found in the Other Resources section, and ParliPro training sessions will be offered for delegates and moderators before the conference begins.
1. Roll Call
b. “Present and voting” (By voting “present and voting,” a delegation may not abstain in any subsequent votes but can only vote yes or no. It is not suggested to vote “present and voting.”)
Be on time for roll call, which is taken at the start of EACH committee session. If you’re late, send a note to the dais to let them know of your presence, since it affects voting calculations.
2. Setting the Agenda
Opening the Speaker’s List
- Requires a motion and a majority vote.
- A primary Speaker’s List may be opened at the Chair’s discretion.
- SAY: “Motion to open the Speaker’s List for the purpose of setting the agenda.”
Setting the Speaking Time
- Speaker’s List time runs from one to two minutes.
- Requires two speakers for and two against with a 30-second speaking time.
- Requires a simple majority to pass.
- SAY: “Motion to set the speaking time at 90 seconds.”
The Speaker’s List
- Once the Speaker’s List is open, debate to set the agenda begins.
- Ex: SPEAKER’S LIST – Jordan, Afghanistan, China, Honduras, Kenya, Germany, Argentina, Romania, United States.
- NB: The Speaker’s List is a perpetuating document – send a note to the Dais to be added!
Setting the Topic
- Motion to set the agenda.
- Simple majority to pass.
- Requires one speaker for and one against.
- SAY: “Motion to set the agenda to Topic One, Maritime Piracy in the Straits of Malacca” (If the motion fails, Topic Two will be discussed first.)
A yield is a way to handle remaining speaking time (Ex. the speaking time is one minute, but the delegate only speaks for thirty seconds). Yields can only be made when delegates are called from the Speaker’s List, and must be specified before a delegate begins speaking. If the delegate fails to specify a yield, the yield is defaulted to the Chair (See A).
A. “I yield my time to the Chair.”
- Remaining time is unused
B. “I yield my time to questions."
- Chair will call on a delegate to ask the speaker a question.
- Speaker can only respond for the amount of time unused.
- No back-and-forth dialogue between delegates!
C. “I yield my time to [insert country’s name here].”
- If a delegate (Oman) yields the remainder of their time to another country (Yemen), that country must accept the yield.
- The country yielded to (Yemen) cannot make another yield (NO DOUBLE YIELDS).
Points give delegates a voice about administrative matters not related to the substance of the committee.
Point Of Order
- Tool to point out a discrepancy in parliamentary procedure or another delegate’s actions
- May interrupt a speaker
- Ex. “Point of Order? The delegate is discussing resolution 3, but only 1 and 2 have been presented.”
Point of Personal Privilege
- May not interrupt a speaker
- Ex. “Point of Personal Privilege? Can the Dais please speak up? We can’t hear the Chair in the back.”
Point of Parliamentary Inquiry
- Tool to ask the Dais to clarify a motion made, a vote up for consideration, or any other step of parliamentary procedure
- May not interrupt a speaker
- Ex. “Point of Parliamentary Inquiry? Are we voting on Resolution 1.2 or 1.4?”
- The moderated caucus allows countries that are low on the Speaker’s List to have the opportunity to speak by temporarily suspending the Speaker’s List and allowing the chair to call on countries at their discretion.
- The delegate who proposed the caucus should specify the topic of discussion, specify the duration (not to exceed 20 minutes), and speaking time per delegate.
- To signal your desire to speak, simply raise your placard.
- Delegates should remain in their seats during a moderated caucus and maintain decorum, as during formal debate.
- SAY: “Motion for a ten-minute moderated caucus with 30-second speaking times [for the purpose of discussing __________________].”
- A motion for an unmoderated caucus, which requires a majority to pass, allows the suspension of the rules and of formal debate.
- Delegates may leave their seats and discuss topics freely.
- The delegate making the motion must specify a total time for the proposed caucus, not to exceed 20 minutes.
- The Chair reserves the right to rule such a motion out of order.
- This is an ideal time to draft resolutions and develop relationships with fellow countries.
- SAY: “Motion for a ten-minute unmoderated caucus.”
6. Resolutions and Amendments
- Each delegation can sponsor or sign as many resolutions as they wish
- Sponsors are countries who agree with the content of the resolution or draft and intend to support it.
- Signatories are countries who would like to see the draft debated but do not necessarily support all the elements of the resolution.
- A signatory of a resolution does not have to vote in favor of the resolution.
- Require 20% +1 of the committee to sign on to a resolution either as a sponsor or as a signatory.
- Each resolution requires at least 2 sponsors.
- Both resolutions and amendments alike require a simple majority to pass.
- Approved by all sponsors of the resolution
- Automatically added without a vote as soon as they are submitted to the Dais
- 12.5% +1 of the committee as sponsors/signatories before being presented to the Chair
- Require two speakers for and two speakers against and a majority vote before being added to the draft resolution
Presenting a Resolution
- Suspension of the rules at Chair’s discretion
- All the sponsors read the resolution to the committee, after which a five minute Q&A is held.
- Non-substantive questions are used to question and correct grammar, spelling, punctuation, or to clarify (without changing) any part of a draft resolution.
- Substantive questions wish to question the meaning and intentions of the draft resolution.
- A non-binding poll vote on a draft resolution or resolution, that allows delegates to get a feel for the popularity of an issue.
Moving into Voting Procedure
- Requires two speakers for and two against and 2/3 in favor to pass
- Once the body has voted affirmatively to close debate, the committee immediately moves into voting procedure
- SAY: “Motion to close debate.”
Voting Procedure – No one may enter or leave the room during the entirety of voting procedure.
- Each resolution is voted on in the order that it was presented (Resolution 1.1, 1.2, etc.)
- Voting on unfriendly amendments occurs before voting on the resolution as a whole
- Each resolution is passed by a simple majority
- May vote yes, no, yes with rights, no with rights, abstain
- Voting with rights means that a delegation is voting contrary to its expected vote based on its declared foreign policy. Delegations voting with rights may give a speech at the conclusion of voting giving their reasoning for such a vote. It is not suggested that you vote with rights; rather, vote according to policy!
Motions Specific to Voting
- “Motion for a roll call vote."
- “Motion to reorder the resolutions.”
- “Motion to divide the question.”
8. More Questions?
For extra preparation and detailed explanations, see Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised in Brief by William J. Evans, Daniel H. Honemann, Henry M. Robert, Thomas J. Balch, available in the Helpful Resources and Links section.
The Director-General will also hold three separate Parliamentary Procedure Training Sessions during the afternoon and evening of Thursday, February 14 to further explain Robert’s Rules of Order and answer any remaining questions.